I’ve mentioned before that Paul is doing a newsletter about “How to be less of an a**hole” over on Substack. (Go here to subscribe!) This month, he dwelled on something he calls the “A**holistocracy.” It spans the tragedies in New Zealand, the social media sites that enabled it, but also answers the question he gets asked in this country almost everyday: “So, what is up with Brexit?”
I have found myself parroting his answer a lot lately, so I thought you might enjoy it. It also, of course, made me feel grateful to be building Chairman Mom—a community with absolutely no toxicity:
From Paul’s newsletter: “As a Brit in America, I am keenly aware of my obligations.
For one, I have a duty to pronounce words like ‘zebra’ and ‘trousers’ and ‘pasta’ in ways precisely calibrated to sound amusing to the American ear. Then I must smile warmly when those same words are parroted back to me in a Dick Van Dyke accent.
I must have an opinion on the Royal family. Sometimes that opinion must be shared on television, like the time in Vegas when the local NBC affiliate declared me an expert on the wedding of Kate and William and allowed me to make up facts for 45 minutes. (“What can you tell us about the man in red standing beside the altar?” / “Well, that’s actually very interesting. According to feudal law, if William fails to show up for the wedding then that fellow is obliged to step in and marry Kate.” / “Incredible. What a wonderful tradition. We’ll be right back.”)
I am obliged to have terrible teeth, to drink tea by the gallon, and be willing—at the drop of a hat —to discuss the cultural significance of Doctor Who with someone for whom the entire franchise began with Matt Smith. I must ‘explain’ Jimmy Saville.
And now, of course, I must have an opinion on Brexit.
I understand completely the American fascination with Brexit. For one thing, it is objectively fascinating. It’s so rare these days that you get to see a first world democracy simultaneously punching itself in the face, shooting itself in both feet, and dashing itself on the rocks, again and again, in slow motion. Also, it’s strangely comforting: Brexit is the only clusterf*ck in the world that’s more clustery and more f*cky than the decision to elect Donald Trump.
Well, since you ask, my opinion is much the same as everyone else’s: Brexit is a clown show. A disaster. An unprecedented humiliation even for a country which is world famous for its bumbling, and whose citizens live in a constant state of embarrassment and apology.
To end the madness, the only logical next step is for the government to declare a second referendum, for the British people to vote a decisive no, and then pretend the whole mess never happened. Another thing British people are very good at: Pretending things never happened. (It was we Brits who invented that awkward little jog you do when you trip in the street and don’t want anyone to realize.)
And yet, for all the voting and rejection and yelling and confusion and major banks relocating to Ireland, a second referendum remains the one thing which neither of the two major parties is willing to consider. A second referendum, we’re told, will lead to blood on the streets and to the Prime Minister being ousted and replaced with Nigel Farage. The far-right will be frothing at the mouth, they warn us, apparently unaware that right wing mouths are already frothing, and have been for a very long time.
The same logic explains why Republican senators stubbornly refuse to halt the destruction of their own party by a crazed orange bigot, or why Evangelicals continue to abandon every single lesson Jesus ever taught about love, forgiveness, tolerance—never mind their own church’s prudish teachings on divorce, adultery, blasphemy and porn stars. It’s why Lindsay Graham sounds like he’s been possessed. Don’t anger the base! Beware the base!
As a result, in both Britain and America, the levers of power are now in the hands of men (mostly men) who, when faced with anything resembling a moral decision, appear to ask themselves only one question: What would a total fucking a**hole do?
We are living in an a**holistocracy.”Wow, that was a lot of asterisks. Hopefully it got through your spam filters. For more, check out Paul’s side project about his own 10-year journey to be less of an a**hole.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How do you maximize your productivity at work?
- Do you make your kids write thank you notes?
- Care of spouse with depression
- What kind of resources do you use to help you manage your asset portfolio?
- Thoughts on the Bibbidy Bobbity Boutique?